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Medical Surveillance: Four steps to follow if you discover negative health effects

by , 11 May 2016
As you know, it's a legal requirement, under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHSA) Act, to carry out medical surveillance for all your employees in the workplace.

So, if your employee is exposed to a potentially hazardous agent in the workplace, you must perform laboratory tests and questionnaires to look for any health changes.

Let's say that you do in fact spot health changes in an employee after exposure to a hazardous agent in the workplace. What must you do?

The answer is simple: Take these four steps as soon as possible...

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Take these four steps as soon as possible…


Evaluate your current protective measures. This involves your engineering controls, such as biological safety cabinets, ventilation, closed system transfer devices, noise etc. You must compare the performance of these controls with the recommended standards and carry out environmental surveys and sampling.

You must also look into your policies for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Look into the PPE usage in your workplace as well as overall compliance to your PPE policies and procedures.  

NOTE: Also ensure that there's adequate availability of PPE in your workplace.


Develop a plan that will prevent any further exposure in your workplace.

For example, in the case of a hazardous chemical substance, you may want to put up safety signs in the risk area.


Ensure you provide an exposed employee with a confidential notification of the adverse health effects. In other words, you must notify the employee in private, without letting anyone else know.

After that, you should offer him alternative duties or temporary reassignment.


Conduct ongoing medical surveillance, in which you monitor and examine other employees in the risk area to ensure that your new plan is working.  
*To learn more, flip over to Chapter M 01: Medical Surveillance in your Health and Safety Advisor handbook.

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